It’s tough for Matt Taormina to sit out.
The Syracuse Crunch defenseman, who battled an injury throughout the team’s run to the Calder Cup Finals last season, was not pleased that he had to be scratched from the lineup earlier this month.
"I probably could have waited another week or so (to return), because that's what the doctors had said," Taormina said. "But after the first game, and being around the guys in practice and stuff like that, I felt that I could get back at it earlier than they thought."
Seeing Taormina sit out was equally as difficult for Crunch coach Rob Zettler. Taormina has become an integral part of the blue line for Syracuse since his arrival last season, and the 27-year-old veteran's calm, patient demeanor comes in handy in all situations.
Today we are releasing Bolt Prospects’ 2013-2014 Preliminary Rankings. Our rankings of the top 30 prospects in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization again reflect the bounty of what we consider to be the golden age of Lightning prospects. That depth is finally breaking through at the NHL level in the form of the seven rookies that made the Lightning's 2013-2014 opening night roster – six of which are included in our rankings. More impressively, none of those six prospects made the top three of our list, meaning the best is still to come. That's why it's no stretch to suggest the Lightning have the best prospect depth in the NHL today.
We continue our Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for October 24, 2013 is … Henri Ikonen, W (Kingston Frontenacs, OHL, Canada).
We didn’t plan on having a repeat winner just five weeks into the prospect season, but Henri Ikonen give us no choice.
The Lightning’s sixth round draft choice in this past summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Ikonen had eight points in two games last week. The energetic winger had a goal and three assists on Friday night in Kitchener then added two goals and two helpers the next night in Owen Sound. He has registered a point in every game this season, and has at least two points in his last six games. Three of those six games were 4-pointers.
After spending most of the offseason putting on 15 pounds of muscle, Vladislav Namestnikov is starting to see the results.
The second year Syracuse Crunch center, who trained in the summer with Joe Neal at 2SP Elite Athletic Development in Michigan, has used his new-found mass to register six points in the first five games of the season. He's adjusting to his new role as the team's top center, but at 6-feet, 185 pounds, Namestnikov is still working to get bigger.
"I think I got a little faster, and in the corners I'm winning more battles," the 20-year-old said. "It's good."
Crunch coach Rob Zettler believes Namestnikov is being rewarded for playing to his strength.
The Syracuse Crunch lineup still has a few question marks heading into a home-and-home series with the Binghamton Senators this weekend.
With Brett Connolly called up to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Charles Landry and Maxime Langelier-Parent sent to ECHL Florida on Wednesday, the Crunch are down to 19 skaters -- 12 forwards and seven defensemen.
Although Syracuse is unsure if Connolly will return by the puck drop at the Onondaga County War Memorial Friday, Crunch coach Rob Zettler has confidence in the forward lines he assembled at practice Thurday, which included moving Evan Rankin into Connolly's spot with Tanner Richard and Geoff Walker.